Sarah Sherman ’17
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My Story

As a high school student, Sarah loved English, biology, and the life sciences. She entered Northeastern wanting to learn how she could bring these interests together.

Sarah chose Northeastern because it offers students a wide variety of ways to apply classroom learning to the outside world through its co-op, service-learning, and research programs. She graduated in May 2017 with a Combined BS in Biology and English.

This is Sarah’s Northeastern Story…

“For me, what made Northeastern unique was the amount of opportunity it offered students outside of the classroom…. I was concerned about it being big, but I realized that if I just stepped up and made connections with professors and peers, I could create a community for myself and find the academic intimacy I wanted.”

My Path
Why English?

Sarah wanted to pursue both English and Biology because she felt passionate not only about the life sciences, but also about how scientific knowledge can benefit communities. In her English classes, she learned how to study and assess the social impact of complex texts – including scientific data. 

To allow her to deeply study both fields, Sarah drafted a proposal for a combined major in English and Biology. Given her interests in public healthcare advocacy, Sarah felt that an education in English would help her learn how to translate scientific research for a broader public. The proposal Sarah composed eventually led to English and Biology becoming an official combined major that any student can now pursue.

Transformational Coursework

Sarah found that the critical thinking, persuasive writing, and editing skills she practiced in her English courses had direct application in her biology research and co-op experiences.

  • ENGL 3339 Topics in Criticism
  • ENGL 3380 Topics in Writing
  • ENGL 4674 Modern Poetry
Photo credit: Joanne DeCaro Afornalli

“I’m constantly hearing in the scientific community that you need scientists who can write. First of all, that’s important on a practical level, because in order to get grants, you need to explain to people why your work is important. And then beyond that, in terms of publication and in terms of public impact, you really have to be able to translate your results, and you can’t do that without communication skills.”

Photo credit: Sarah Sherman
Global Experiences

In her freshman year, Sarah enrolled in a Dialogue of Civilizations program that brought her to Rome, Italy. While in Rome, Sarah took classes on Italian language and culture. She honed her writing and analysis skills while composing her final project, an ethnographic study of the place of street art in Italian culture.

 

Civic Engagement in Boston

Since coming to Northeastern, Sarah has served as a tutor in the afterschool program at 826 Boston, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the creative and scholastic development of students aged 6-18 from underresourced communities. Sarah tutors students in English, Biology, and Chemistry, an experience that has confirmed her goals of pursing patient advocacy and public health as a healthcare professional.

Cooperative Education in Therapeutic Research

While on a co-op performing breast cancer therapeutic research at Massachusetts General Hospital, Sarah’s ability to understand difficult texts and craft compelling narratives from complex information proved crucial for communicating about her research in grant proposals, research abstracts, and conference posters. These were skills she developed in English classes.

 

“I was able to help several colleagues with manuscript editing and grant-writing. In particular, when I was looking at the grant, I was thinking, How can this be a better piece of persuasive writing? … So the ability to edit and synthesize information was really helpful for me in my co-op.”

Internship

In Summer 2016, Sarah held an internship in the Pediatric Oncology Education program at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. As an English major at Northeastern, she developed critical thinking and writing skills, an appreciation of how scientific research can positively impact individual lives and communities, and the ability to make meaningful stories from scientific data. These experiences have provided her with a solid foundation for working towards her ultimate goal of improving healthcare accessibility.

Next Steps

Sarah received a Fulbright Research Award for her project, “Assessing the Role of Pathology in Timely Cancer Care in Botswana.” She plans to evaluate the impact of recent improvements to pathology labs in Botswana. Read more in News@Northeastern.

“English gives you a unique opportunity to practice and immerse yourself in the ideas of deconstruction, critical thinking, and narrative creation. And in business, in science, in politics, that’s really important.”

This was Sarah's NU Pathway...Where will yours lead?

 

Northeastern Department of English

https://cssh.northeastern.edu/english

 

Photo credit: Brooks Canaday/Northeastern University